Jenny's Library

Posts Tagged ‘literary theory

cover image for Peekaboo!Peekaboo! by Taro Gomi

In addition to Gomi’s always wonderful illustrations, this board book has special twist. There is a small hole cut the entire way through the book and, as the cover suggests, each two page spread features a different face, with the cut-outs situated where the eyes would be.  Thus allowing the books to double as a mask – perfect for playing peekaboo with your little one.  Altogether this will make a delightful addition to any child library, or any library’s children’s collection.

cover image for Each KindnessEach Kindness by Jaqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis

When a new girl joins Chloe’s class, the first thing that Chloe notices about Maya is how old her clothes are, and how her spring clothes are for the snowy winter outside.  When Maya smiles at Chloe, and asks if she can play, Chloe and her friends don’t smile back, and don’t invite Maya to join them in their games.  No matter how many times Maya asks, their answer is the same, until she simply stops asking.  But when Maya stops coming to school, Chloe wonders if she made the right choice.

My favorite thing about this book is that it allows the story to have an unhappy ending.  Maya never comes back, and Chloe never gets a chance to apologize or become friends with her.  Chloe realized her mistake far too late and now must live with her regrets.  It’s not an easy book, but it’s exactly the right kind of difficult that children need.  It’s an experience that they can relate to, and one that’s not too complicated for them to understand.  Yet at the same time it asks questions that defy easy answers.

Lewis’ illustrations, always gorgeous and detailed, are especially effective here, giving the book a quality that is both realistic and yet etherial and contemplative.

cover image for Three Observations and a DialogThree Observations and a Dialogue: Round and About SF by Sylvia Kelso

As the title suggests, this volume contains of three papers/talks on science fiction.  More specifically women and feminism and science fiction. Also included is a series of written exchanges between Kelso and Lois McMaster Bujold, who is mentioned frequently in Kelso’s essays.

I began reading this volume about a year ago, then realized that I should possibly consider waiting until I had actually read some books by Lois McMaster Bujold first!  At which point I set it aside while I did just that, only finishing it early this year.  So my memory of the first parts are a bit hazy.  What I do remember is that all of it is extremely interesting and thought-provoking, particularly when she’s discussing Bujold’s work..

Also, it’s nice it is to see two real live women respectfully arguing (also, agreeing, quite often!) in print.  It’s a good antidote for all the rivalries between women that the media tries to dredge up and/or fabricate.

cover image for Icing on the CakeIcing on the Cake by Sheryl and Carrie Berk

Fourth in the Cupcake Club series, this volume tells the story from Jenna’s point of view as she juggles the demands of being the club’s taste tester and dealing with conflict at home at the same time.  When Jenna mother announces her engagement (news that does NOT make Jenna happy) and then hires the club to make cupcakes for the reception, Jenna’s worlds collide, much to her dismay.

I don’t actually expect chapter books to be very good, or to be realistic, but I prefer them to be a little bit less farfetched than this.  Or, at least, to be farfetched for more exciting reasons than cupcakes and weddings.  And I definitely expect the interpersonal conflicts to be realistic; it’s certainly realistic that Jenna is upset that her mom is dating and then getting remarried, but it’s not well depicted here.  The same goes for the little bits of “culture” that are sprinkled in to make sure we know that Jenna is Jenna Medina and that she’s hispanic.  #WeNeedDiverseBooks, but we don’t need culture that’s layered on top like icing on cupcakes.

The arguments against authors listing which of their works are eligible for awards confuse the hell out of me.

I’m sure a certain amount of that is me not understanding where the people making such arguments are coming from, but I also feel like there’s a lot of assumptions in many of those arguments about how people come to be Readers of the genre.  Not people who simply read books in the genre, but people who read enough and care enough that they would be willing to pay money to vote on an award.  So this post isn’t so much an argument for authors doing anything in particular as it is an attempt to banish those assumptions.

Point the First:

To say that “speculative fiction has always had a very permeable barrier between fan and pro” (as Martin Lewis does in his post on the topic)  is not only understating the case, but describes the dynamic in a way that does nothing to illuminate how fan-author interactions actually work in a world in which the internet exists.

I’ve mentioned before that the internet is the reason that I started reading science fiction and fantasy again, after having stopped in my teens.

This is an exaggeration, of course, as I never really stopped reading speculative fiction entirely.  What actually happened is that it ceased to be the bulk of what I read, and instead became something I occasionally read, often with a significant amount of caution.  The reason for this being that every bookstore that I walked into was happy to promote works by male authors that wrote about manly men who did manly things (which tended to include treating women like shit), and appeared utterly oblivious to the fact that women read and wrote in this genre as well. Even worse, as I transitioned from children’s books to adult books, it became increasingly difficult to avoid stumbling across books that, quite frankly, were deeply NOT FUN because of the way they depicted gender and adult relationships.  A problem made worse by the way that female writers were marginalized by the publishers and bookstores, because, in the absence of any sort of feminist analysis in reviews and promotional materials, my best bet at avoiding those books was to look for the female authors that were so hard to find.

It’s also more accurate to say that the internet is how I began to find adult speculative fiction.  I was working in a bookstore and reading all kinds of teen and middle grade speculative fiction when I first began seriously using the internet as a tool for finding books.  This was back in the mid oughts, when people outside of young adult literature were beginning to notice that young adult fiction had really taken off.  Right in the middle of Harry Potter Midnight Magic Parties (I worked two of them).

What’s is true and important about this story is that despite always being a reader, despite having read The Lord of the Rings in elementary school, despite reading middle grade and young adult speculative fiction at the time, I didn’t start looking for adult speculative fiction on purpose. I stumbled across it.

I’d just began watching Criminal Minds, of all things, having caught some episodes in reruns over the summer.  Curious to see if anyone else had thought about how the show played with gender, I typed a few words into google and stumbled across Elizabeth Bear’s livejournal.  I started out reading her posts about Criminal Minds, and ended up reading her books.  I also found other people to talk about books with!  People who listened to what I said and didn’t try to tell me that what I really needed to do was read [author that I’ve tried and whose books left me feeling slightly ill]. It was amazing and, I have to admit, slightly life-changing.

What’s is true and important about this story is that I found Bear’s books because she talked about them, not because other people did.

I found joy in reading adult speculative fiction again because that barrier that Lewis mentioned is permeable, not despite it.  My first experiences with discussing adult speculative fiction in a way that did not make me feel small or silenced involved authors discussing their own works.  So this idea that authors discussing their own works taints the discussion by definition is not one that I understand.  It can certainly happen – and does happen often. But I also honestly cannot imagine finding speculative fiction nearly as interesting without having access to essays and posts and tweets about it – about their own work even – by women like Amal El-Mohtar, Kate Elliot, Kameron Hurley, Sylvia Kelso, Lois McMaster Bujold, N.K. Jemison…and well, you get the idea.

Now, I’m not saying this dynamic doesn’t change at all when one is talking about awards – the power differential matters a lot more, for starters – I’m just trying to explain why “awards are for readers and not authors” is not an argument that makes sense to me.  Not just because these aren’t clear distinctions, but because my experience has been that my options as a reader are improved when authors have more options as well.

Point the Second:

Anyone who thinks that every author who posts an eligibility list is “lobbying for awards” (as Martin Lewis calls it) or “self-pimpage” (as Adam Roberts does*) doesn’t understand how imposter syndrome works.  (I’m guessing they also aren’t reading the twitter feeds of the women who are talking about this.)  I can’t think of a time that I’ve submitted my art somewhere because I thought it was the best or expected it to get chosen.  I submit it for the same reason I attempted rock climbing and hiking Angel’s Landing, even though I knew I’d chicken out of both: because there’s more value in failing than there is in never trying.

My guess is that for a lot of the authors making these posts – women in particular – they are not so much about trying to convince readers to nominate and vote for them as it is an attempt to remind readers who are about to get busy talking about all the usual names that they still exist and would you please remember to read me too?  They are lobbying for themselves, yes, but it would be more accurate to say that they are lobbying to be read and discussed, to be considered rather than forgotten.

You can see this dynamic happening in the discussions on twitter, where an author will say something about not being sure about if they should put up such a post, and other people – readers and writers both, and often women – will rush in to encourage them to do so.  The value of those posts is as much in that exchange as it is in the posts themselves.

Point the Third:

To me, Amal El-Mohtar’s argument about diversity isn’t really about who is getting nominated for this specific round of the Hugos, etc.  It’s about how people see themselves and the choices they make because of that.

I tried out for the soccer team my first year of college, despite being far too out of shape to have a chance. On the first day, when we were doing timed laps and I was not only the last person in, but struggling to make it to the end of the run long after everyone else was done, the rest of the women trying out began cheering me on.  One of the senior team members jogged back onto to track and ran the rest of the way with me, making sure I didn’t give up.  I didn’t make the soccer team.  I didn’t even make it to the end of try-outs.  But I carried that moment with me for the rest of my time at school. The knowledge that the women around me wanted me to do well kept me going far beyond that one run.

Roberts may see people in an arms race and trying to “level the playing field.”  I see people helping each other, affirming that they want others to do well.

This discussion isn’t just about authors, either. It’s also about readers like me. And whether the books I read and like deserve to be part of the discussion, to be considered or not.  About whether my opinions have merit, or whether I should leave the serious discussions to the people that can be more “objective.”  To the people who were part of the discussions back in the good old days when awards were about merit – and I didn’t even bother reading adult speculative fiction because I had no idea how to find books that didn’t insult me.


There’s been a lot of changes to publishing in the last few decades, and I don’t doubt that their impact on awards hasn’t been entirely positive.  The problem is that these changes have been also useful for a lot of readers like myself.  There seems to me to be a lot of focus on judging authors actions in reaction to these changes rather than actually looking at the system as a whole.  There also seem to be a lot of potentially good arguments about wanting to focus on literature being sidetracked by the assumption that the status quo is neutral. Not to mention the implication that those of us who appreciate reminders, or can’t devote enough time to keep track of this all by ourselves, are somehow polluting the process by participating. Which leaves me feeling like I’m being told it would have been better if I’d never joined the discussion – and a lot of other people whom I disagree with, but who I suspect have good ideas, sounding rather defeated.

It would be nice if we could move the discussion past this, but I admit that I’m not sure how to do that.**

*Am I the only one who went O.o at that phrasing?  Perhaps it’s just the experience of coming to this as a woman, and therefore as someone who runs the risk of being called a “whore” in the literal sense, but that…was really not the way to convince the people who are in favor of eligibility posts that you aren’t being blind to how differing experience and privilege affects how people approach this issue.

** I do want to give props to the people who have put together the Hugo Award Eligible Art(ists) tumblr.  I don’t think that I’m ever going to be against artists talking about their own work in their own space, but as a reader and fan this kind of project is really what I find to be most useful.  It’s also a good example of how focusing only on what authors should and shouldn’t do is really limiting our discussion – and consequently our solutions as well.

Chapter 4: Pollution of Agency

Russ spends much of this chapter demonstrating that even though it’s no longer scandalous for women to be writers or actresses, women writing about certain aspects of their lives is still considered immodest and renders the author unfit and unloveable in the eyes of popular culture.

photo of actor Quvenzhané Wallis

How sweet is Quvenzhané Wallis in this (and every) picture?

Sadly, I think the mores of the past are not nearly as diluted as all that.  Actresses may no longer be considered “used goods” but sometimes it seems only barely.  As I was reading this chapter my mind kept going back to the appalling behavior of this year’s Oscar host.  Not just when McFarlane called then nine year old Quvenzhané Wallis a gendered, sexual slur on national television.  Not to mention the myriad of other gendered and sexualized insults aimed at the women that were supposedly there to be honored.  But also how important it was to the punchline in his “We Saw Your Boobs” song and dance that the actresses mentioned felt ashamed for having done the job they were paid to do.  To the point that, rather than leaving it to chance, they filmed staged reaction shots showing the actors mentioned hiding their faces and looking shocked and embarrassed.  This wasn’t just a silly song about boobs, it was above all a song about how it’s shameful to be a woman who has let the public see her breasts.

photo of actor Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron wants to know how anyone finds McFarlane funny.

Let’s also not pretend that this scorn of women performing sexuality is something only raving sexist pigs do.

This morning my timeline was all a-twitter over Ms. Magazine’s Spring 2013 cover story about Beyonce, her feminist viewpoints, and her work as a performer.  Most of the women of color that I follow were rightly pointing out that Mainstream (= White) feminists and feminist organizations are a lot quicker to question the feminist credentials of performers of color, while at the same time defending white feminist creators (such as Lena Durham), even when their version of feminism is clearly problematic.

photo of Beyonce

Beyonce doesn’t have time for all this bullshit.

I wonder too if there’s not something to the fact that Beyonce’s public persona, unlike Madonna’s or Lady Gaga’s, is perceived to be Diva rather than Avante-Garde.  There’s echos of the porn wars here, with Lady Gaga being given a pass where Beyonce is not because the latter is perceived as showing off her body only because it makes her money, while the former is assumed to be showing skin in order to make an artistic statement.

photo of Madonna

Madonna wants to remind all of us that we live in a Material World.

An assumption that is also racist.  First for ascribing loftier goals to the white performer.  But also in they way that this viewpoint assumes that black women’s experiences with the Beauty Myth are (or should be?) the same as white women’s, when that’s clearly not true.  Beyonce being beautiful, talented, and sexy during the Super Bowl half time show means something very different culturally than a white female performer doing the same.  Any discussion of her feminism that doesn’t take that into account is going to fail by definition.

In conclusion, knock it the hell off Ms. Magazine; I suspect Russ would be very disappointed in you today.

Apologies for the radio silence, I’ve been a bit busy lately.

Class finished up last weekend.  The weekend before that I flew out to New York (state) for Pippi to Ripley, an academic conference on “the female figure in fantasy and science fiction.”

I presented on how the media talks about science fiction “for girls” and got to meet Tamora Pierce, who gave the keynote speech. Ms. Pierce was so very nice and spent a good deal of time with everyone who wanted her autograph, talking to them about her books and answering questions.

As you can guess, it was a great weekend.  It was also a friendly but low key conference; I strongly recommend it for fans in the area and/or other first time presenters looking for a place to get their feet wet.

However, I’m completely crap at taking notes at these things, so if you want more detailed information, I suggest heading on over to Kate Nepvue’s livejournal.  Be sure to check out her post about her own presentation as well, it was quite interesting and well done.

Chapter 3: Denial of Agency

It’s perhaps too early to say for certain, as I have eight chapters left, but I do think the best quote of the book is:


I want that embroidered on a pillow or something.As a someone who earned a degree in physics at an all women’s college, I am quite aware of the tradition of men getting credit for work that women have done.  (Women’s studies was an extra part of just about every class I took, including physics lectures.)  Instead, what I found most fascinating about this chapter was the phenomena that Russ describes as “it wrote itself” and “the man inside her wrote it.”  This is idea that, suddenly, when it comes to women’s creative work, art is the spontaneous product of time and culture, and individual effort has little to do with it.  Even worse is the idea that a woman’s “masculine side” is responsible for her intellectual achievements.

It’s an attitude that assumes there is nothing men can’t do, that there is little that women can do, and consequently sets men’s work up as the bar that women must strive for.Thus the reason for the quote above, which was written by a friend of Russ’s upon receiving a note from a fan telling her that Heinlein couldn’t have done a better job writing the story she published.

Bullshit. “HEINLEIN COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT AT ALL.”  Men’s work alone is not the pinnacle of human achievement.  Women do not need to be like men or as good as men to be create great art.  Talented men cannot do everything any and all talented women can do.  To argue otherwise is to deny that women have value and agency.

I ran into a fellow youth librarian that I know, but haven’t seen in a while, at the LA Times Festival of Books (I know! what are the odds! anyway…).  At one point when we were talking she asked me which age of kids I preferred working with.  I used to have an answer to that, back when I subbed in schools.  I don’t anymore.  I think in part because I have more flexibility of choice in the library; it’s easier to set up library programs so that they bring out the best in each age, rather than having to handle the worst of each age for an entire school day.

I think the other reason is because my current position really emphasizes childhood and adolescence as a continuous process.  Teachers get kids at one age, and then see them grow incrementally throughout the year.  I go from working with toddlers to teens to preschoolers to elementary age students all in the space of a week.  Then I do it all over again the next week.  Teachers see kids grow, but only up to a certain point, at which time they are replaced by kids the age the outgoing class they used to be.  I, on the other hand, see kids move from our baby classes to our toddler classes and so on.  If I worked here long enough, I could see them move all the way up to being a parent with their own baby.

Which may be part of why I’m finding the number of people talking about young adult literature in comparison to adult literature, but not in comparison to children’s literature, to be increasingly annoying.  There hasn’t really been an upsurge in people doing it (except that there has been an upsurge in people talking about young adult literature) but I’m fast losing patience with it.

I understand why it happens.  Adults who add a handful of young adult titles to their reading lists are hardly going to do the same with picture books or middle grade novels.  And yet…I don’t actually understand it.  I love picture books and don’t really understand anyone who doesn’t.  I’ll still like you as a friend, but I don’t really get not liking Portis’s Not a Box or Gravett’s Orange Pear Apple Bear.  And I think all of you science fiction and fantasy fans that aren’t reading at least a couple of Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath series are totally missing out.

Most of all though, talking about how books for teens are different from books for adults, without also talking about how books for teens are different from books for kids, just makes no sense to me.  It’s like talking about how teens are not like adults without having any understanding of how they used to be as children.  There’s often an implicit understanding, when talking about the things 17 year old drivers do, that not that long ago they were only 15 and couldn’t drive themselves anywhere.  But when people mention The Hunger Games and where it fits in the larger dystopia canon, it’s only ever adult books that are mentioned, not the middle grade dystopias, such as The Giver, the Shadow Children series, A Wrinkle in Time, or The City of Ember, the books that shaped it’s target audience’s expectations for how such stories should go.

This problem seems to be especially bad when it comes to science fiction novels.  I think, in part, because most adult science fiction literature fans were nerds as children and read adult books more often than most children tend to.  But also because many adults just aren’t aware that adult genres don’t exist in children’s – or even teen – literature the way they do in adult literature.  When adults study children’s literature in school, whether as English students or library science students, we don’t talk about mysteries, speculative fiction, horror, and romance.  We talk about animal stories, historical fiction, school stories, and other genres that are much more popular among actual children.  Which isn’t to say that adults genres don’t exist in children’s literature, it’s just that they don’t have quite the same presence, and their tropes and themes are often very different.

Modern ideas about school and home are present in dystopias for children and young adults in a way that they aren’t, usually, in adult fiction.  It goes beyond simply being a warped version of the world they know, it’s also about development and how children perceive the world around them.  So the kids in Camazotz are still playing ball – because children’s sense of time and play and the way their actual memory works means that synchronized bounces read as wrong in a way that never getting to play with balls at all does not.  The children of Ember still go to school, in part because we assume that American children would have a hard time seeing themselves in kids who did not.  Teens in Delirium have tests they must pass, because while we are borrowing from Romeo and Juliet here, modern teens (supposedly) need an institution rather than a political alliance to rail against.  Jonas and Katniss both have mandatory assemblies to attend, despite the danger of populous action they present, because what’s more benignly oppressive than a pep rally?

These are all tropes and traditions that go beyond just science fiction for teens.  You can draw parallels to adult science fiction novels, but you can also do the same for contemporary novels like Looking for Alaska, in which a school assembly is a dramatic turning point and the site of student rebellion, or Lowry’s historical Number the Stars, which features a different child defying an entire country.

I could go on, but the point is that there are traditions and tropes present in young adult literature that readers will miss out on if they are no longer familiar with stories about mice on motorcycles or spiders than can spell, not to mention the subgenere of “preteen girl loses mother tragically.”  This isn’t to say that all of these tropes are interesting or that children’s or young adult literature can’t or shouldn’t change – just that a lot of what young adult literature does makes so much more sense if you’ve Dr. Seuss or Judy Blume more recently than several decades ago.

After my visitor stats jumped up the other day (thank you to The Book Smugglers – and Kate Elliott and Liz Bourke – for retweeting the link to my Sisters Red post!) I realized I ought to point readers in the direction of some of the posts that got me thinking about this.  And then I fell down the rabbit hole of collecting links.

So, this is not the “you should read these posts” post! – that’s still coming.  Instead, this is a nice long list of links about “grimdark,” realism, fantasy, and other related topics.  Not all of these links are ones I find intellectually stimulating, but many of them are, and I’m hoping that this list will provide a good reference.

For me, if no one else.

Two last notes: First, a huge thanks to Liz Bourke and Cora Buhlert for their recent link posts, which is where I got most of these links.  And secondly, several of these links deal with sexual assault, so proceed with caution.

2/2/11 The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists – Leo Grin (one of the critics of grimdark that Abercrombie links to as decrying grit in a general sense)

5/13/11 Lament for a Lady – George R. R. Martin “It has come to my attention that a number of television viewers…were shocked and upset by what befell Sansa’s direwolf Lady…Good. I mean, that was kind of the point.”

8/2/11 “People who like this sort of thing.” Being a review of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns – Liz Bourke “In my experience, you have to be either especially clueless, or trying very hard, to achieve that level of misogynist creepy.”

2/27/12 A Game of Thorns: Or This Partially Being an Epic Review of the Epic Fantasy Novel, Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence, And Partially Something Else – Eric M. Forester “Because while the author claims it only has rape in “0.06%” of the book, it is certainly front heavy with it. And a general dismissiveness towards women stalks its pages.”

5/12  Dear Speculative Fiction, I’m Glad We’ve Had This Talk – Elizabeth Bear “The thing is, that kind of cynical pose is really just a juvenile reaction to the world not being what we hoped. We can’t have everything—so we reject anything. But it’s adolescent, darling, and most of us outgrow it.”

10/18/12 “But Alas, She Is A Woman”: How Dishonored Uses Gender Roles To Tell A Story – Becky Chambers “There are many other examples, but those were the two that made me realize that Dishonored is fully aware of how the women within it are treated. It knows how unfair that treatment is.”

10/21/12 The Treatment of Women in Dishonored – Cuppycake “I just wish that at least once, either the women are given the chance to fight back and improve their situation, or I am given the option as a player to help them and show that I care.”

1/20/13 onwards Gratuitous Rape in Fantasy novels – SFF Chronicles forum

1/28/13 A Song of Gore and Slaughter – Tom Simon (one of the critics of grimdark that Abercrombie links to as being concerned with morality)

2/8/13 Grimmy Grimmy Dark Dark – The G “Darkness has its place in fantasy fiction, and can infuse a book or series with immediacy and power, but it only works if horror is presented as horrible, and if it serves some greater purpose.”

2/25/13 The Value of Grit – Joe Abercrombie “So, yeah, shitty gritty books are no better than shitty shiny books.  But I proudly and unapologetically assert that there’s a great deal more to grit than a capacity to shock and titillate.”

2/25 onwards Joe Abercrombie Defends Gritty Fantasy – SFF Chronicle discussion thread

2/26/13 Sleeps With Monsters: Epic Fantasy is Crushingly Conservative? – Liz Bourke “We come back again to a lack of a broad consensus in definitions: I like epic, you like grimdark, they like crap.”

3/1/13 Grimdark Fantay’s Last Hurrah? The Grim Comany by Luke Scull – Niall Alexander

3/1/13 Stopping the Pendulum by C. P. D. Harris

3/1/13 Truest Grit – Joel Johnson “But don’t try to turn on all the lights and wash over everything with a fire hose. We’ve grown fond of this dark, dirty place we live in.”

3/3/13 It’s That Time of the Year Again: Grimdark Fantasy – Cora Buhlert “First of all, I find it telling that he equates people who don’t want to read grimdark fiction with those who don’t want sex or swearing in their fiction.”

3/3/13 On Grittiness & Grimdark – Foz Meadows “when you contend that realistic worldbuilding requires the inclusion of certain specific inequalities in order to count as realistic, you’re simultaneously asserting that such inequalities are inherent to reality – that a story cannot be honest, or your characters believably human, if there aren’t mechanisms in place to keep women oppressed, POC othered and LGBTQ persons invisible.”

3/3/13 Yes, This! – Cheryl Morgan “The point about happy endings is that they give hope. They let people know that they don’t have to accept that darkness and oppression are the natural state of the world.”

3/4/13 What is Your Consensual Sex & Love Doing in My Epic Fantasy – Kate Elliot “To my mind, we lessen the story we are telling about human experience if we do not include and see as worthy all of human experience, especially including positive depictions of sex and love. What kind of world do we vision if we only tell the ugly stories about such intimate matters?”

3/5/13 Sleeps With Monsters: Urban Fantasy is Licentiously Liberal? – Liz Bourke “Within the greater umbrella of “urban fantasy” as I choose to conceive of it, then, it’s clear that there are a wide range of possible moods, themes, and approaches.”

3/5/13 More on Grimdark Fantasy – Cora Buhlert “This is remarkable, because – as I’ve noted before – women and writers of colour are usually assumed not to write gritty fantasy, even if they do.”

3/10/13  Coverage of Women on SF/F Blogs (2012) – Renay

3/10/13 A question about male gaze – Michelle Sagara “Male gaze irritates the crap out of me. Most of the women I know who notice their bodies are likely to say “I need to lose weight around my thighs” or “my stomach is so flabby”, so if you really want to write from a female viewpoint, you don’t have your character notice her fabulous perky breasts or creamy skin or etc. Because. Well.”

3/13/13 The Rape of James Bond – Sophia MacDougall “I found I couldn’t cope with rape as wallpaper.”


3/14/13 Why Winterbirth Was Gritty, Grimdark, or Whatever You Want to Call It – Brian Ruckley Part 1 (Winterbirth being a novel by Brian Ruckley)

3/15/13 Realism, (Male) Rape, and Epic Fantasy – Liz Bourke “Why do men flinch from the reality of their victimisation? Does it not fit their fantasies of power? Of gritty, grim, realistic life and violence?”

3/15/13 Grim, Dark, and Straw – Richard Morgan “So it seems I’m writing GRIMDARK!!! Who knew? Well, certainly not me.”

3/16/13 Welcome to the Desert of the Real – Marie Brennan “I don’t have a problem with stories where everything is grim and dark and horrible. I may not want to read them, but I’m not going to run around saying they shouldn’t exist in the first place. What I do have a problem with is the imputation of moral virtue to those stories…”

3/17/13 Transcript of a Twitter Conversation – fidelioscabinet (+ various)  “I’m beginning to think that writers of epic fantasy and SF should be required to learn about the anthropology of material culture… (Liz Bourke)”

3/18/13 I Love A Good Tragedy As Much As the Next Guy – Elizabeth Bear “If every woman’s going to be raped, if every hero is going to turn out to be a pedophile or a coward, if every halfway honorable man is going to be impaled, if every picturesque little town is going to be burned to the ashes… Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies is just as lazy a narrative as the one where all challenges are resolved by a handy Deus ex machina. And possibly a little more juvenile.”

3/19/13 Sleeps With Monsters: Thinking About Dishonored – Liz Bourke “I don’t need the social disabilities of my gender slapped in my face in a gaslamp fantasy stealth-assassination game.”

3/19/13 Gritty People, Gritty Problems – Sam Sykes “It’s very easy to sign off accusations of grimdarkness as overreaction, because sometimes it is. …But there is a real danger in dismissing the word because there are some questions that should be asked.”

3/19/13  Gritty Washback – Joe Abercrombie “My main problem remains with the definitions, and their apparently endless mutability to suit whatever argument is being made.”

3/19/13 onwards What’s all the hubbub about grimdark? – reddit

3/20/13 Why Winterbirth Was Gritty, Grimdark, or Whatever You Want to Call It Part 2 – Brian Ruckley (Winterbirth being a novel by Brian Ruckley)

3/20/13 My considered contribution to the “grit” debate – Mark Lawrence


3/20/13 I pity the fool – Elizabeth Bear “Because the viewpoint character being an able Western white cis het male totally doesn’t inform the narrative, and has no influence in the way the world is presented, because that’s the only viewpoint that really exists, and the rest of us are all flavor text. We’re spices. We’re here to be observed and consumed”

3/21/13 Batman had it easy – Marie Brennan “Can you imagine how audiences would have reacted if Bruce had to fight off a rapist? Even if the rape weren’t completed. A lot of people were put off just by Silva unbuttoning Bond’s shirt and putting a hand on his thigh, by a few lines of suggestive dialogue. They would have blown a gasket permanently to see Batman treated like, oh, name just about any superheroine you care to.”

3/22/13 Gritty, Grimdark, and Gratuitous – C. P. D Harris (talks a bit about the origins of the term)

3/25/13 It’s Still Very Grimdark Out There – Cora Buhlert “IMO that’s also why many in the SFF community feel so threatened by the popularity of urban fantasy. Because though urban fantasy is far from free of problematic gender dynamics, it is far more likely to feature consensual and mutually respectful sex.”

3/25/13 gritty vs. grimdark – Marie Brennan “You can have grit without being grimdark, and you can be grimdark without grit, but doing either while being female is rare? Not very tidy, but something to keep in mind.”

3/25/13 Game of Thrones – Oyceter (nudity in book vs. show, and by gender)

3/26/13 three conversations at once – Marie Brennan (pretty much just as it says: about grimdark and realism the current conversation about them and how they are really a whole bunch of overlapping conversations)

3/27/13 Where Goeth Epic Fantasy – Kate Elliot (normally, people say don’t read the comments – in this case: definitely read the comments)